Calif. '3 Strikes' Convict Freed
Homeless man got 25 years to life for attempted break-in
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2010 4:35 AM CDT
Stanford law school student Gabriel Martinez, Lois Taylor, 78, mother of Gregory Taylor, and Stanford law school student Reiko Rogozen answer questions after yesterday's hearing.   (AP Photo/Anne Cusack, Pool)
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(Newser) – A homeless man sentenced to 25 years to life for trying to break into a church soup kitchen to find food has been freed by a Los Angeles judge. Gregory Taylor received the stiff sentence under California's 'three strikes" law in 1997 because he had two felony convictions for a purse-snatching and an attempted unarmed robbery in the mid-'80s, the Los Angeles Times reports. "Today we are able to correct the past and strike his third strike, " the judge said.

The original sentence "falls outside the spirit of the three-strikes law," the judge said, giving Taylor a new sentence shorter than the time he has already served. Law students taking part in a project to overturn life sentences for minor convictions presented new evidence about Taylor's character and mental health. "I just want to thank you for giving me another chance," Taylor—whose case has been at the center of debates over the law—said at the end of the hearing.